How I Got Into Computers

Written circa 1998 by Ter Micharoni

Ever since using computers in school as a young kid in the mid 80’s, I’ve loved them. I wanted my own for years before I obtained one. The first was around 1988, and that was an Atari XT Game System. Although I had some fun with it, it was severely lacking as a computer. The graphics, sound, and speed, while considered great in the early 80’s, weren’t the standard anymore.

In 1991, I purchased an Atari 1040 STe. I liked it a lot. The graphics were good, and it had the software to produce a decent looking newsletter. But the 16-bit Atari computers never took off, and software was few and far between in 1991, if at all. Still, I knew I couldn’t afford an IBM so I had to make the best of it.

By the time early 1993 came around, I had gotten a 2400 baud modem for the STe. I subscribed to GEnie, and called every day to read and post messages. The alias I used was White Knight (my friend Carl wanted to write on the side of his van “White Knight”, and I couldn’t think of anything else, so that’s what I chose). While there, I saw an ad for Paris BBS, and it was located in New York City. Excited, I called, but back then I didn’t set my modem software correctly and got all garbage, so that was that, and I stuck to GEnie. By July 1, they had axed their unlimited feature, and put in an hourly charge. Since I averaged 3 or 4 hours per day, I knew I would be screwed, so I quit.

A few months went by (late October), and I apparently was bored, so I messed around with my modem software (STacker/STeno), dug out the number to Paris BBS, and called. It worked! No more garbage! I still couldn’t get any color ANSI, but I didn’t even know color was possible in a BBS, so I was happy. At first, all I did was use the voting topics (being that I didn’t know how to download anything unless they were text files), then I started posting, just like I used to do on GEnie. Slowly, the messages on Paris started to rise, and I quickly became their #1 poster. While on Paris, I checked out their BBS listing, and called several others, such as The Missing Link, The Sports Pages, Great American BBS, Island Pub, and others, but I only liked posting on Paris and The Missing Link, since they used Renegade software (which is the best in my opinion). Besides, The Missing Link was a lot like Paris. It even had a lot of the same staff members and users (I thought of them as twin BBS’s). Pretty soon I figured out how to unzip .ZIP files and view .GIF’s (thank God Paris had an Atari ST file section).

By December, I downloaded a new terminal program for my Atari Ste, called ANSI Term (I think). I tried calling a BBS from it, and couldn’t believe my eyes: I saw color and blinking text for the first time ever online! I could even download faster, because it had ZMODEM (I used to use XMODEM to download). Whoa! 236 CPS downloads! So I began to call more boards and download more files, while posting my butt off on Paris and The Missing Link, where I met such classic users as Hypnotic Blur (Paris sysop), Sensory Overload (boy, did I have classic wars with this dude!), Patriot, Longshot, Xodus, Darknight, Dogs, John Smith, Helix, Marksman, Static, Snoopy, First Strike (The Missing Link sysop), and countless others.

In February 1994, First Strike saw how I got his message base posting up so high from so low, and made me message sysop (as well as a co-sysop). About a week later, Paris’ messages were dwindling, and Hypnotic Blur made me a message sysop and co-sysop as well.

Then came Magic May. I answered an ad in the paper for a used printer. When I got to this guy’s house and bought it, he said he had an old IBM XT with CGA monitor that was taking up space, and threw it in the deal. Boy, way I thrilled! All it needed was a keyboard. So I bought one real cheap, and checked it out. Only problem is I didn’t know anything about IBM’s (I didn’t know DOS or anything like that). So I posted messages on The Missing Link and Paris asking for help. Xodus replied, and gave me some basic DOS commands. It helped a lot, and soon (after buying DOS For Dummies) I knew enough commands to use it with my modem, so I put the Atari 1040 STe aside and started BBSing from the XT (with 10 meg hard drive, which was better than no hard drive like on the Atari).

I learned fast, and by July, I decided I wanted my own BBS. I was posting messages asking what I should name it. Hypnotic Blur replied sarcastically “Knight’s Realm?” Little did he know I decided to use it! 🙂 On July 16 1994, I got a 14.4 modem (and got bitten on the rear end by a Doberman Pincher, but that’s another story). Two days later, I got my own line, Knight’s Realm went up, and Xodus (known as Saor on my BBS) was my co-sysop, since he always had a solution for my computing problemos.

Renegade wouldn’t run on my IBM XT, so I was forced to use TriBBS. Anyway, my board was an instant success, but the XT’s 10 meg hard drive was severely hindering Knight’s Realm. Saor and I worked out a deal: For my Atari Jaguar he would give me his old IBM 386 with VGA monitor. After I got the 386 in August of that year, I switched to Renegade. When November came, I traded it in for a 486/33 with SVGA monitor (since updated to a Pentium 133, which itself has been upgraded to a Pentium II 400).

Today, I no longer am in contact with Saor, Paris and The Missing Link are gone, and 90% of those other boards and users are nowhere to be found. Sadly, Knight’s Realm went down on February 4, 1997. While I initially intended to put it back up, I probably will never back. These day, BBS’s just aren’t popular, with the Internet taking over. I myself haven’t even called a BBS in over a year. Still, I’d take BBSing in 1994 any day over the Internet today.

Finally, I will never ever forget the wonderful memories that all of these boards listed above have given me, in addition to The Rebel Base, Suicidal Chaos, Mindless Youths, and great file boards like The Sports Pages, Maria’s Castle, Sylvia’s Den, and many other I may have not listed. And to users like Jerky, Cracker, Luke Skywalker, Slain, Deathblow, Average, Matrix, Mental, EMS, Yrallee, Mordy, Northstar, Cristo, and all the others I mentioned above (and to those I may have forgotten), I love and miss you all.


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